|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3112 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1505 words|
「So you used a Vanity Case. You look the opposite of what I’m used to seeing so it really took me long to realize, sheesh.」
Since there was no more reason for Kagura to maintain a persona, she stretched her legs relaxedly while throwing away the cloth above her head. As she did that, her black glossy hair like obsidian fluttered in the air.
「You’re at fault too for wearing that cloth. If I had been able to see you from the start talking would’ve been much easier.」
Kagura showed no signs of having used a Vanity Case, her face was exactly as Mira remembered it once the white cloth was off.
Her bangs were arranged in a fringe cut, while her eyebrows looked like a thin brush stroke above her black round eyes. Her eyelashes were long, while her lips formed a slight pout. At first look she appeared like the daughter of a rich family in ancient Japan, but because of her relaxed posture, it also seemed like that rich family entrusted everything to an older sister while spoiling her.
「Well, I also happen to be famous around these parts. If it came to light that I’m one of the Nine Wisemen some people would get rather suspicious of me, so I’m keeping that a secret. The only people who know who I am are those two who were here earlier, and three others… and you too now, grandpa.」
Kagura’s voice sounded boastful as she nodded while looking straight at Mira.
「So you go under the name of Mira now, huh. Grandpa is Mira… Thinking about that makes me feel kinda weird, to put it somehow.」
「Feel free to call me anything.」
「Grandpa… Mira… Hmmm… both are so different.」
Kagura used to call her grandpa back when she had Danbulf’s appearance. There was something about her that seemed off compared to before, like the feeling of a brand new brush, so she leaned forward getting closer and narrowed her eyes.
「And so, what do you need from that person?」
Kagura glared at Mira as if she was looking at a rival. But Mira had just been filled with relief having found one of the Nine Wisemen, so she had no idea what Kagura meant, repeating her words in her mind multiple times.
「You said you were looking for someone, little Nyanmaru’s master.」
「Ohh, you meant that. But I don’t need to meet them anymore. When I heard that name, I immediately thought that was the type of name you would come up with. And it was you I was looking for, so I basically took a shortcut.」
Saying so, Mira also took a more relaxed posture while laughing off the matter with the onmyoji master.
Nyanmaru’s master was a girl who Kagura had watched over directly. They had only known each other for a short time though, so it was very hard to call her a true wiseman’s pupil. When that girl made her contract with the black cat shikigami, Kagura had told her, 「This is Nyanmaru.」
Since Kagura had said that, the girl could obviously not refuse that, so she named the shikigami Nyanmaru. As a result, when Mira met the shikigami it called itself Nyanmaru.
「Hmm, is that so. What did you need from me then?」
Kagura had a strong attachment to that girl, so when she heard Mira was not looking for her, her hostility disappeared and she calmed down.
「Solomon asked me to. I heard there’s a treaty or an armistice or something like that, but there’s a chance a war might happen next year. And since we’re lacking in defenses, I was sent off to search for you since you never returned.」
Mira continued talking, without noticing Kagura’s change in attitude at al.
「So that was it.」
The Nine Wisemen were a pillar in the defense of the country and were heroes that had helped grasp a victory many times. Kagura was aware of that much.
「Although now that I found you, from the look of things you won’t be able to return right away.」
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As Mira spoke, her head turned looking around the room, before stopping on the door the two assistants had gone through.
「Yeah, it’ll be a bit hard to abandon them.」
After establishing such a large institution as a response to Chimera Clauzen, she could not leave being their leader, and she would never allow herself to do that either.
「Still, I’m quite surprised you managed to create such a large institution. I never saw you as they type to take the initiative, But I guess people change.」
Blue and White, the Fifty Bells Union members Mira had met in the Forest of Praying Children, the pamphlets Mira had shown Solomon, and the harmony with which the headquarters went along with the spirits of the Forest of the Four Seasons. Mira felt a strong admiration for her recalling all of those things she had seen.
When Kagura heard that, she recalled her original motives. How the Fifty Bells Union came to be, and her current driving force.
「Well, there’s no way I would ever forgive them.」
Kagura’s voice rang heavy, trembling like a scream even though it was only a murmur.
At first, Kagura wanted to return to Arkite Kingdom. But she did not want to go back, or rather, she had a reason why she could not return.
The Fifty Bells Union, a charitable organization that protected the forests, spread throughout the entire continent and recognized by most countries. But in reality it was an armed organization built to resist Chimera Clauzen’s prosecution of spirits. It had been more than ten years since it all began.
Kagura had gone through a similar experience to that of other former players. After a moment of blankness, they realized they stood in this world that became reality.
The place where her new life began was inside the large forest on northern Grimdart. There were no other people around her, only endless trees and nature spreading as far as she could see, a place isolated from civilization.
Kagura’s entire body felt odd and uncertain, her five senses stimulated to a degree impossible by a virtual world.
Unable to comprehend the situation, she decided to walk to the nearest city and ask there what happened. To do so, she decided to teleport to the flying island she had bought with real money, but puzzlingly enough she was unable to. The option to teleport was gone from her menu. There was another change she noticed then, the option to log out was also gone.
She was deep inside a forest without anyone who could help her, and all her private messages to friends remained unanswered.
It was then that Kagura realized she was completely alone in the middle of nowhere.
Her only saving grace was that all her accumulated experience was not wasted in this situation. Since she was one of the Nine Wisemen, her powers were befitting of the name, so no matter what monsters lingered so deep in the forest, none would pose a danger to her. Even if she ran into hostile people, she would be able to defend herself without problems.
But while she deliberated like that, time kept flowing, the sun beginning to set. Given that the forest’s trees covered a large portion of the sky, the darkness of night arrived there earlier. A hint of twilight was visible, then the next moment the sky was black and shrouded the forest in darkness.
With such a dense darkness ahead, even the lights produced with Concept Magic were like candles, making orienting oneself very confusing.
Completely lost as to what to do, Kagura walked around for many hours. What she found out at the end of it, was that while it felt like a dream, this was all palpable reality. And she was stuck in an unknown forest without a place to go to.
Kagura took multiple deep breaths, as if trying to empty her lungs, crouching down while hugging her head, filled with an incomprehensible feeling that was not quite irritation or uneasiness.
As she did that, a silhouette peeked out from between the tree branches. It felt like a passing sensation, but out of the rustling of the wind, chirping of birds and critters, a meaningful voice asked: 「What happened?」
Kagura looked towards the direction of the voice out of instinct, raising a shriek at what she saw there. After all, she had just seen a human face peeking at her beside a tree, illuminated by the unreliable light of her Concept Magic.
But Kagura was not the only shocked one. The owner of that voice also screamed while tottering back and falling on a bush. Sitting there, she shook her head before hurrying to stand up and hide behind the tree again, her face peeking out.
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